My work continues to be inspired by my colleagues and friends in the global Art of Hosting community, the Berkana Exchange network and the relationships I built early on in my career as part of the Pioneers of Change Network. My basic belief is that if we work together we can overcome challenges and find ways forward that none of could reach alone. The era of the hero is over and age of collaboration is on. ￼￼
Whether we look through the economic, social or environmental lens we are all seeing the need for adaptation within rapidly changing circumstance. This is not about creating plans to shelve and gather dust. It is embedding a living practice of innovation and agility into how we get things done. On this page are some of the models I use to navigate change and innovate solutions.
LEVELS OF ENGAGEMENT
Any kind of engagement that wants to lead to change has different levels of impact. This is true for a public engagement, an organizational change process, an intervention in a team or a bold societal change initiative. An understanding of these levels of impact and how they interact with each other, allows us to strategically plan for stronger outcomes.
Individual - If I wish to see change around me and engage others in the design of it, I must let go of my own assumptions about what is right and wrong. Only then am I able to connect my insights with others for a more complete picture and inclusive set of outcomes.
"the depth of change I am willing to go through inside myself, is directly relative to the depth of change I will be able to lead in the world around me."
Team - The team that is leading the work must have relationships that are strong enough to adapt to and integrate changing circumstance. Their capacity to work with each other and learn together will dramatically impact the quality of result we are able to achieve.
"all too often we are so focused on the finish line that we forget that our relationships impact the results. The stronger the relationships at the core, the more resilient the outcomes"
Project - The project itself must have space for people to influence its development. Clearly defining what can be changed and what cannot creates a playing field for people to work within.
"just enough structure enables the inevitable chaos of change to evolve meaningfully and productively. Too much order and we kill innovation, too little order and everything falls apart."
Context - Whatever we do is an intervention in the world around us. It will have impacts beyond those we can predict and design for. Knowing this will happen, allows us to be alert and prepared for whatever may arise.
"we live in a inter-connected world. Nothing happens in isolation. Be prepared to be surprised."
ELEMENTS OF SUCCESS
Whether we are applying collaboration in an organisation, community or across society there are key elements we must continue to pay attention to, to build a robust platform for success:
Get influence and power onside. Those who wield decision making power and influence have a key role in creating the conditions for change leaders to be successful. Understanding the scope of their support and clearly articulating their relationship to the work is essential.
Build credibility by showing results. The delivery of successful strategic interventions is what builds the credibility for the work and therefore its continued support. We must choose high impact, high visibility interventions that have good conditions for success.
Train people to embed change. The best strategy for long term impact is training people to solve their own problems. Broad based capacity building changes culture, which ensures that our actions will have long lasting impact.
Implement structure that supports the outcomes. A flexible structure to sustain the work is essential for long term change efforts to succeed. It is the transformation of our structures that moves change leadership from rhetoric to reality.
Have clear shared work. A clear focus for our work galvanizes collaboration across difference and disagreement. Getting into work together will accelerate our learning about how to get change done and surface our shared purpose and principles.
PROCESS OF CHANGE
Every project is different in its content and context, yet there is a simple, iterative process to navigate the complex landscape of change meaningfully and productively.
(1) Define the dilemma - An understanding of the larger aspiration and long term strategy allow us to clarify purpose of the work ahead, define the scope of what can be changed (and what cannot) and determine the desired outcomes. A pre-condition for change is a foundation of clarity among those who hold decision making power and influence.
(2) See the bigger picture - Most efforts at creating change fail because we fail to see reality. All too often our expertise, our training or our beliefs blind us. We must uncover a wide range of perspectives to make visible the bigger picture of where we are at, where people would like to go in the future and what is needed now.
(3) Make strategic choices - The shared understanding of the bigger picture enables us to collectively discover purpose, articulate culture and define areas for action that will yield the greatest impact.
(4) Act and learn - Based on the bigger picture and the strategic choices we are fully equipped to formulate the plan for collaborative action, develop prototypes for rapid learning and build organizational structure that serves real needs.